Student anxiety and doubt about academic performance in the early years of medical school have been well documented. Stress management programs can be helpful but are challenged by shortages of time, personnel, and resources. Therefore, popular online social networks such as Facebook may offer an innovative strategy for addressing student stress and supporting coping. This pilot study explored whether first-year medical students could benefit from a stress management intervention based exclusively on Facebook. During orientation week at Penn State College of Medicine, participants were randomly assigned to a Facebook stress management group that addressed problematic issues during the first semester. The intervention took place during the first eleven weeks of medical school. A multi-method evaluation of the intervention was completed using descriptive statistics for demographics and frequencies and qualitative procedures for focus group data. The accessibility and ease of use of a Facebook-based stress management program proved valuable for medical students, particularly early in the semester when engagement was greatest. These preliminary results suggest that medical schools might consider adding an online social networking component to existing stress management programming. This online strategy may also be of benefit to other health professionals and students from other health disciplines.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Human-Computer Interaction